Grizzly bear Americana

Cam Penner
Cam Penner

Canadians Cam Penner and Jon Wood are touring their big Americana music show at the Heart of Hawick on Saturday, November 16.

Borders-born roots music agent Loudon Temple is bringing Cam Penner and Jon Wood from ‘The Big Country’ to the UK and Ireland for their biggest-ever tour on this side of the Atlantic.

“We are trying to introduce something very special to the whole wide world,” said Temple. “It’s just about impossible to stay in your seat when they hit the stage: be warned – you may want to get up and dance around and clap your hands.”

Cam hails from a Mennonite community in Southern Manitoba, where his parents, town rebels, ran an illegal roadhouse, and his grandfather, a bootlegger, was a much-loved character in the rural community.

His last album, Gypsy Summer, debuted at Number 16 on the US Billboard Charts and established him as a songwriting force.

Maverick magazine called Cam’s new release a “grizzly bear of an album with a heart as big as an ox,” adding: “They pack a jaw-numbing punch.”

Loudon Temple said: “I had seen Cam and Jon perform a few years back and they were very impressive, but I had the pleasure to catch them again when they launched their latest album in Toronto earlier this year.

“The songs are instantly infectious and true celebrations of life.

“Their new album, To Build a Fire, has been winning them huge praise from critics on both side of the Atlantic – its part-folk/part-rock ‘n’ roll style cutting through barriers and bringing all sides together.

“Live, they are mesmerising, creating a big, bold sound that is also bright and extraordinarily subtle in places as percussive elements combine with layered guitar techniques to bolster the rich texture.

“If you close your eyes you might think a whole band is up there on stage as at some points, Jon will have two different guitars on the go simultaneously and Cam occasionally sits at a full kit of drums to keep the beat and play guitar as he delivers his songs. It has to be seen to be believed.”

Cam and Jon return to the UK and Ireland for a string of dates to promote their new record, which they showcased at the big Folk Alliance International event in Canada earlier this year.

This visit forms part of a big European schedule that will also take them to The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Denmark.

“The album finds the pair delivering with more forceful clout than before, but has its gentle side too,” Temple said, adding: “If you are in need of a tonic, this is a true pick-me-up.”

The FolkWords website added: “It’s Captain Beefheart experimenting with folk, David Crosby unleashed, Woody Guthrie reincarnated.”

An Irish Times reviewer said: “Cam Penner and his emotional songs of lives lived and experiences endured and enjoyed deserve to be heard in all their stoical splendour.”

Another described: “Cam Penner is the working man’s musician. He’s out there on the road, hoping beyond hope that his music, and all good music gets heard.”

Cam Penner and Jon Wood’s show begins at 7.30pm at the Heart of Hawick. Tickets cost £12, available on 01450 360688, or at the Visit Scotland Box Office in Tower Mill.